Sunday 23 October 2016

Court rules Corbyn can remain in Labour race

Laura Hughes in London

Published 29/07/2016 | 02:30

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn

BRITISH Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has won his High Court battle to remain in the Labour leadership race, after a judge ruled he did not need the backing of his MPs to run.

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The judge, Mr Justice Foskett, said Labour's ruling body had correctly interpreted the rules when deciding that Mr Corbyn did not need the support of 51 MPs or MEPs in order to stand.

The decision defeats a challenge from Michael Foster, a Labour donor, who had insisted that Mr Corbyn should have to get the backing of MPs like any other challenger despite being the incumbent.

It means Mr Corbyn is allowed to continue his campaign against Owen Smith for the leadership and appears to close the door on a dispute that has run for months in the party.

Speaking after the ruling, Mr Corbyn hit out at the decision to bring the legal case and said there should be "no question" of his right to stand.

Mr Foster argued that if Mr Corbyn had not been automatically allowed to stand, he may have struggled to obtain the 51 nominations from Labour MPs or MEPs.

Mr Foster told BBC Radio 4 two weeks ago: "It's about the rule of law.

"There were three bits of legal advice from different QCs, all of which were contrarian and none of the people in the room were unbiased in the view of that advice," Mr Foster added.

"The advice that was taken was certainly not given the expert consideration that it would receive from a High Court judge and everyone in the room had a different political agenda."

Mr Corbyn said: "I welcome the decision by the High Court to respect the democracy of the Labour Party. This has been a waste of time and resources when our party should be focused on holding the government to account.

"There should have been no question of the right of half a million Labour Party members to choose their own leader being overturned. If anything, the aim should be to expand the number of voters in this election.

"I hope all candidates and supporters will reject any attempt to prolong this process, and that we can now proceed with the election in a comradely and respectful manner."

Iain McNicol, general secretary of the Labour Party, said: "We are delighted that the court has upheld the authority and decision of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party. We will continue with the leadership election as agreed by the NEC."

Earlier this week, it emerged that Mr Corbyn's supporters have accused Mr McNicol of "subverting" internal rules and keeping legal advice "hidden" to effectively block him running for the leadership.

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